February 27, 2020 / 7:25 AM / a month ago

CORRECTED-Cricket-India beat New Zealand to reach T20 World Cup semis

(Corrects winning margin in lead and New Zealand score in second paragraph)

MELBOURNE, Feb 27 (Reuters) - India became the first team to reach the Women’s Twenty20 World Cup semi-finals on Thursday after beating New Zealand by three runs to register a third successive victory at the tournament.

India, put into bat, could not make the most of a strong start but their 133-8 still proved beyond Sophie Devine’s team, who managed 130-6.

Opener Shafali Verma’s 46 was not a chanceless knock but it earned the 16-year-old her second player-of-the-match award.

Her opening partner Smriti Mandhana (11) disappointed again though, dragging a wide Lea Tahuhu delivery onto her stumps.

Verma and Taniya Bhatia (23) forged a half-century stand to prop up the Indian innings, aided by some sloppy catching by their opponents.

Verma, who smashed Anna Peterson for back-to-back sixes, was first dropped by Maddy Green at long on and then at midwicket by Tahuhu.

The opener, who smashed three sixes and four boundaries in her 34-ball knock, eventually holed out at long-off as wickets started tumbling.

Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur’s (one) run drought continued as she fell for her third successive single digit score.

When New Zealand began their chase, their top three, including skipper Devine, let the team down and departed with the side reeling at 34-3.

Green made 24 and Katey Martin contributed 25 to arrest the slide but it was Amelia Kerr’s lion-hearted 34 not out down the order which injected excitement into the contest.

Needing 16 off the last over from Shikha Pandey, Hayley Jensen and Kerr hit a boundary each and ran three singles but could not reach the target.

Hosts and defending champions Australia, who went down to India in the tournament opener, play Bangladesh later in Canberra. (Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Peter Rutherford)

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